Convergence, Voice over IP (VoIP), and the internet were the hot topics at last year's CeBIT conference in Hanover, Germany. A year later the chatter seems to be gradually turning into action.
Some of the main exhibitors attending CeBIT 99, which starts today, will follow up the hype with real products.
True to its promise, Cisco will deliver the fifth and final phase of its convergence plan. With most elements already in place the latest phase is intended to tie them all together nicely. The centrepiece of the strategy is its Selsius-IP Communications System (SCS), a revamped standards-based version of a proprietary phone system Cisco acquired in November when it bought Selsius. At CeBIT the vendor will tie SCS to its Assure policy-based management initiative and directory-enabled networking (Den). It will bolster SCS reliability and enhance user features. Cisco will also migrate Selsius' proprietary standards to the Internet Engineering Task Force's open Media Gateway control protocol and add IP telephony and H.323 gateways to Cisco switches and routers.
It also plans to demonstrate video over ATM and some new packet voice products, as well as announcing a service partnership with NCR.
Nortel Networks is using CeBIT as a platform to unveil more of its unified networks message. The Accelar 8000 switch will provide data, telephony and video integration. It is expected to decrease complexity by allowing a two-tier campus architecture with wiring closet switches connecting directly to the network centre switches. It also performs riser and server aggregation as well as Man/Wan connectivity. Using Bay Networks' Optivity policy and network management software it is expected to be able to support e-commerce, ERP and telephony.
Nortel is also going to announce an alliance with IPivot to deliver a line of server switches that will increase the application reliability and service availability of heavily trafficked websites for enterprises and service providers. The Accelar 700 server switches are based on joint developments and will also provide response-time-based load balancing and application-aware technology which will smooth the way for new e-commerce applications.
Newbridge Networks is demonstrating its range of managed multi-service, multi-access, ATM and internet protocol products. This includes a carrier-class managed multi-service network architecture for both the enterprise and carrier customers.
Following its venture into the Gigabit Ethernet market from its purchase of Berkeley Networks, Fore Systems released two gigabit products. It will launch its third gigabit offering at the show. Not giving up its allegiance to ATM, however, it will be showing its ForeRunner ASX4000 backbone switch, which will be the first in a new family of ATM switches scaling to over 100Gbps. Its OC-48C (2.5Gbps) ATM ports will offer 10, 20, 30 or 40 Gbps of non-blocking, full-duplex switching capacity. These products will be targeted at the backbone of large enterprise and service provider networks and have already been deployed by Microsoft, Cable and Wireless and UUNet.
Alcatel has been busy buying Xylan Corporation and Assured Access but it has still managed to fit in some key mobile and internet announcements.
These include IP and internet products for both the carrier and corporate market. On the mobile front it is launching its first dual-band GSM handsets.
A spokesman promised: "It will be fashion conscious in appearance as well as supporting 1,800MHz and 900MHz frequencies."
As usual IBM's show theme will be e-commerce and 'pervasive computing', but it will also demonstrate its wearable computer and its handheld supermarket shopper which is already on trial at Safeway.
Symbol Technologies is launching its NetVision Data Phone in Hanover.
The phone is based on VoIP and integrated voice with a barcode laser scanner featuring embedded thin-client software and a Lan radio card.
Siemens will launch a range of Unix enterprise and workgroup servers based on the new Mips R12000 processor.
Novell plans to release what it described as a new way to allow users to co-ordinate the different identities and relationships they have on the internet.
Read or listen to the latest breaking CeBIT news on our sister online publication VNU Newswire at www.vnunet.com from 11 March. We will provide live net radio coverage of the show from the same site.
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